No Merry Christmas for Iranian Christians
Iranian Christians did not wish their fellow Iranians a Merry Christmas (kerismas mobārak in Farsi, the language of Iran) publicly this year. Or last year. Along with other religions in that country, such as Judaism, Bahai, Zoroastrian or other Muslim branches besides the Shia denomination of Islam, which is Iran's official religion, religious freedom there is increasingly restricted according to the 2018 United States International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Report which revealed:
In the past year, religious freedom in Iran continued to deteriorate for both recognized and unrecognized religious groups, with the government targeting Baha’is and Christian converts in particular. While several high-profile Baha’i prisoners were released during the reporting period following completion of their sentences, others were arbitrarily detained based on their religion, and long-term trends of economic and educational persecution of the community continue. Christian converts and house church leaders faced increasingly harsh sentencing: many were sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for their religious activities. Religious reformers and dissenters faced prolonged detention and possible execution, while the government’s growing ability to enforce official interpretations of religion online posed new threats to the freedom and safety of internet users. In a new, troubling development, the suspension of a Zoroastrian elected to the local council of Yazd sparked national debate about limiting the political rights of religious minorities. While the Rouhani Administration signaled its intent to address some religious freedom violations, these promises have yet to be implemented and the number of individuals imprisoned for their beliefs continues to climb. Based on these particularly severe religious freedom violations, USCIRF again recommends in 2018 that Iran be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC. Since 1999, the U.S. Department of State has designated Iran as a CPC under the International Religious Freedom Act (RFA), most recently in December 2017.
(Uh, yes, a religion has to be "recognized" by the Iranian regime in order for its followers to be allowed to even minimally practice.)
Ali Khameni, "Supreme Leader"
An article by Lela Gilbert in the Jerusalem Post elaborates on this report.
Whatever faith one embraces in the Islamic Republic of Iran, if it is not Shi’ite Islam, it is incompatible with the mullahcracy that rules the country. That means there can be life-or-death risks for minority members who protest, defy the rules, speak too boldly, or otherwise offend the turbaned clerics who cling to power with their iron fists.
And the iron fist, turbaned clerics are easily offended.
In 2017, there were at least 517 executions in Iran.
Meanwhile, the story about the “staggering” number of Christian arrests tells us all we need to know about Iran’s intolerance for religious minorities.
Yet, for some reason I didn't read about Iranian anti-religious brutality and other gross human rights offenses in the media. Did you? These executions, these religious restrictions should have been of great concern to those who are professionally involved in guaranteeing freedom of conscience and other basic human rights and have the resources to do so. For instance, what does the United Nations have to say about this? Hmmm. For some reason, the UN, which even has a Universal Human Rights Declaration doesn't seem too concerned about this grisly abuse. Oh sure, the UN recently
…approved a Canada-sponsored resolution, supported by 40 human rights organizations, which rejected Iran’s continuing rights violations including discrimination against women and the “imposition of the death penalty against persons who at the time of their offense were under the age of 18.” The resolution also forbade Iran’s abuses of minorities – including religious groups – and its widespread practice of arbitrary detention, demanding that it “release those who have been arbitrarily detained.”
Calling the resolution a "political charade", Iran continued to be Iran, ignoring the resolution while imprisoning and hanging dissidents and making life extremely unpleasant for others of whom they disapprove. And of course the UN, which has had a Universal Declaration of Human Rights for 70 years which, "sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected," continued to be the UN, ignoring Iran ignoring its resolutions while focusing its ire on the United States and Israel. And the US's European allies continued to behave as if they are the US's enemies (shh, shh, they are -- at least they're not really allies), trickily bypassing US sanctions against Iran so as to become wealthier and thereby merrier.
France and Germany have joined forces to rescue a European effort to create a payments channel to keep trade flowing with Iran, defying U.S. attempts to take the air out of the plan, senior diplomats said.
The steps by Europe’s most powerful countries are part of their campaign to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after President Trump withdrew the U.S. in May. Their goal is to help European companies continue some business activity with Iran despite sweeping new U.S. sanctions on the country and any company that does business with them.
So, the French and the Germans and other Europeans will have a very profitable and merry Christmas at the expense of Iranian Christians and other victims in that country while the Iranian iron fist, turbaned clerics will be merrily unoffended.
And to them that is worth unmerry Iranian suffering.